The FINANCIAL -- Canadian consumers will be guided by their conscience when making purchasing decisions this holiday shopping season and will consider a retailer’s reputation for working conditions, buying policies, community involvement and ethics before opening up their wallets, according to Accenture’s annual Accenture Canada Holiday Shopping Survey.
The survey—now in its fifth year—found that a large majority (77 percent) of Canadian shoppers said a retailer’s reputation is important when making their purchasing decisions, with more than one-quarter (27 percent) saying they consider reputation to be extremely important.
“Building both trust and respect are the major themes this holiday shopping season,” said Kelly Askew, managing director of Accenture’s Retail Strategy practice in Canada. “Retailers need to be efficient, innovative and responsible in how they do business in order to gain consumers’ trust. Brands must also respect their customers’ time and help them make purchases more easily if they don’t want customers to leave and shop elsewhere.”
The survey also examined frustrations stopping consumers from shopping at physical stores or online. The main frustration preventing Canadian consumers from purchasing goods in-store more often is long lines, cited by 51 percent of respondents. On average, Canadian shoppers are willing to wait six minutes in a queue before giving up, and two-thirds (65 percent) of Canadians abandon their purchase after 10 minutes. Additionally, 41 percent of shoppers said they would leave a store if there are long check-out lines to buy online instead. Not being able to handle the product, as well as shipping issues, are the top frustrations that prevent consumers from buying more goods online, cited by 55 percent and 44 percent of respondents respectively.
According to the survey, Canadian consumers plan to do a majority of their holiday shopping in a physical store rather than online. Increasingly, they value digital interaction with retailers, and online shopping is increasing in popularity. The number of respondents who said they plan to do the majority of their holiday shopping online increased 15 percent this year, to 38 percent, versus 33 percent last year. In addition, the number of Canadians who prefer in-store shopping fell 15 percent since last year, from 62 percent to 53 percent this year.
The results of the survey showed consumers increasingly use the two channels together in order to find the best deals. The percentage of consumers using their smartphones in-store to compare prices rose 20 percent, to 41 percent, from 34 percent a year ago, while mobile use was popular for those seeking loyalty points (61 percent) and real-time promotion prices (52 percent). Approximately three-quarters (74 percent) of shoppers said they plan to partake in ‘showrooming’—i.e., visiting a store in person to review a product before purchasing it online—and approximately the same amount (76 percent) said they plan on ‘webrooming’—i.e., shopping for a product online before buying it in a brick-and-mortar retail store.
“Canadian consumers will use their smartphones as a digital companion to in-store shopping this holiday shopping season and expect retailers to offer a seamless experience that bridges both channels,” said Robin Sahota, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice in Canada. “Applications that collect loyalty points and offer promotions are particularly popular because they let consumers save while eliminating the need to carry loyalty cards or coupons.”
Among the additional trends identified by the survey:
Increasing Optimism about Personal Finances, Consumers Likely to Spend More but Appear Loyal to Local Brands
Thirty-nine percent of Canadian shoppers plan to spend more on their holiday shopping than last year – a five-percentage-point increase.
Canadians expect to spend $873, on average, on holiday shopping this year, an increase of 17 percent over the $744 they expected to spend in 2015.
One-third (31 percent) of respondents said they feel optimistic about their financial situation coming into the holiday season, versus 26 percent who said the same last year.
Nearly half (45 percent) of Canadian consumers said they plan to purchase from local brands, more than those who said they plan to purchase from American or international brands (37 percent and 19 percent, respectively).
Purchasing from Canadian brands is more important to older consumers: Canadians over 60 were six times as likely as those 18-24 years old to say they will do a majority of their shopping with local brands (54 percent versus nine percent).
Black Friday and Boxing Day Shopping Plans
More than two-thirds (70 percent) of shoppers surveyed said they will likely shop on Black Friday this year, compared with 60 percent in 2015. In fact, more Canadian survey respondents said they will shop on the traditionally American shopping day than did U.S. respondents (70 percent versus 65 percent).
More than two-thirds (70 percent) said they plan to shop on Boxing Day, versus 64 percent who said the same last year.
One-third (32 percent) of shoppers said they believe the best deals will be available on Boxing Day and/or week (32 percent), versus 28 percent who said that they believe the best deals will be available on Black Friday.
More than one-third (37 percent) of consumers plan to shop in-store on Black Friday or Boxing Day so they can buy personal items at a cheaper price, and more than one-quarter (28 percent) of consumers said they won’t start their holiday shopping until December.